This week, I posted the following hand on the blonde poker 'Poker Hand Analysis' board:
Las Vegas 2007
I followed the Final Table at The Venetian with a couple more good cashes.
I started thinking about using some of the $'s to buy into the Friday afternoon tournament at The Bellagio. This is right at the top end of my budget, but I was showing a healthy profit and was feeling confident.
The tournament starts at 2:00 in the afternoon and the entry fee is $1,000 + $80
The hand this week is the third hand from that tournament after eventually deciding to give it a go. I was trying to organise a latte during the first two hands so actually sit down at the table just as the third hand is about to be dealt... and it's my big blind.
Location: The Bellagio. Las Vegas
Buy-In $1,000 + $80
Starting Chips $5,000
As I am settling in UTG raises to 200. There is a caller in middle position and the button also calls. The small blind folds and when the action gets to me I look down to see...
Two red kings... welcome to the tournament.
I decide to raise it up to 800. UTG folds, middle position folds, and the button calls.
So we go to the Flop heads-up with 2,025 chips in the pot.
The flop comes down....
I flopped the full house and now my only consideration was finding a way to get all the chips in the middle. I did not see the sense in checking here because if my opponent had an Ace he would call/raise if I bet and if he didn't have an Ace he would check behind my check. You MAY be able to entice one small feeler bet from your opponent if you check but as soon as you call/raise that bet the strength of your hand will be revealed and your opponent will shut down.
So I am definitely betting here and I think the amount of the bet and the way you put that bet across the line is important in this sort of situation. Again, I see no point in betting out and 'looking' weak when you do it. I want my opponent to disbelieve the story I am telling him and as such he may make a move on me with K-Q, a flush-draw, or any pocket pair if he doesn't have the Ace. Most decent players are aware of the Caro strong=weak philosophy so my opponent is going to get super oodles of strong here and hopefully reject my strong act as weakness in disguise.
I decide to bet 800. But I make up the 800 with all my small denomination chips which makes the bet look bigger and more impressive than it actually is and then I jam those chips out there, splashing them in the general direction of my opponent. I hope that he cuts through my bravado and sees the amount of the bet is actually smallish despite my supposed strength and I am not pot-committed so a re-raise could result. Just to finish the job I lean back in my seat (distance from cards is a good tell for weakness) and subtlety touch my nose a bit (pacifying gesture).
My opponent thinks about what to do for a long long time before finally calling the bet.
So we go to the turn with 3,625 chips in the pot and a latte going cold on the side.
The turn hits the felt and it is...
So we have a board of
On the flop my intention was to tell a story of weakness. A story I hoped my opponent would buy into. My body language and behaviour was strong even though the size of my bet could be considered weak and inconsistent with this behaviour. In an attempt to seal the deal I threw in a couple of bluff tells. I appreciate that if my opponent has an Ace the hand will play itself out but the motivation behind my efforts was to try ad snag him even IF he doesn't have one. If he doesn't believe me he MAY call on the flop with atc's to try and wrestle the pot from me on the turn, something he could achieve with the smallest of bets. I have nothing to lose.
So if he has bought the story and thinks he's got me sussed I must offer him the consistency he's looking for on the turn - to confirm his suspicions that I am in fact weak. So what hand would I re-raise pre-flop with that wouldn't like this board? Maybe a pair of Jacks or Queens? I know that on this flop if I check with a pair like this I will ultimately be surrendering the pot, so I might take a stab at it. Hopefully, looking strong will scare my opponent away.
What would you do with Queens on the turn now that you have been called? It would difficult to fire another bullet off I think. You would probably check. This is consistent with his reading of the situation. So when the Five of clubs falls this is actually a good card. It is true that we would find it difficult to put him on a flush but he would be thinking likewise. So the point is that our actions and this card provide him with an open invitation to represent either the Ace or the flush in spite of his actual holding.
Of course, he could very well have an Ace but I think that he would flat-call the flop bet here as well, especially if he thinks I am weak, because why would he want to scare me away? I am betting into him with an inferior hand and he is sitting pretty with position and feels in charge of the hand.
So I check
... he reaches for chips and I immediately reach for chips as well. This is a great tell for weakness I think because why would I want to stop him betting if I am strong?
He pauses, then disappointingly checks as well.
The river is peeled of and it is...
We now have a board of
My opponent thinks motionless for a good while. The he announces "I'm all-in".
boldie: "Doing by your reasoning you should love that face card on the river as it's the only card that he would move all his chips to the middle with.
totalise: "Given the way you played the turn and river, snap call"
TightEnd: "Insta call, by checking the turn (which I would have done) I think you have to take anything that's coming and accept that the whole lot's going in. I bet the river, wouldn't want to risk a check behind"
bone1986: "I think Tighty is right. I would also have bet out on the river, but once we check it can only be to induce some kind of bluff steal or allow our opponent to make a value bet with a lesser holding. I've got to make the call, we played the hand to get all his chips in the middle and that's just what's happened so we may not like it but it's all going in."
TheChipPrince: "I'm never ever folding here, but why are we not value betting the river? OK, he pushed all-in which I'm presuming we're pleased with, but I definitely bet 40% of the pot on the river hoping to get called by a medium pair or a weak A..."
Flea: "Personally I'm not convinced I'm ahead on this board but as everyone else seems to be then it's an instant call, as you state you don't really want to go out of this size tournament so early and it maybe that which is dictating your opponent's play, knowing that this is likely to be the mind-set of most players early on they maybe be prepared to risk it all hoping to buy a chip-lead (not a strategy I'd adhere to personally but have seen this before where people have had to show complete bluffs early on in competitions)."
Alex Martin: "I like river check, are we never folding this hand and wanting to induce a bluff? I'm a little bothered about A-Q, but not enough. Most players are milking those type of holdings early doors and don't want to lose you."
I had planned to quickly push all-in on the river as soon as the card dropped to make it look like an over-bet steal. I was disappointed he had checked behind on the turn. However, an Ace or a Queen were never going to be ideal cards for Kings full and I found myself checking...but not so I could induce a bluff from my opponent. It took me a while to make the call but as almost everyone has said...how can you fold?
He tabled his hand at it was....
....and that was that.
The reason I posted the hand was because I was interested to see if anyone could possibly find a fold in this situation. Obviously laying down a strong hand is very difficult and was something I couldn't manage...but is it possible?
I am not being results-orientated when I ask this question because the result was that I called and lost. Of course, the chips could have gone in at any stage and the result would have been the same but here we have been presented with a possible escape route.
Looking at the evidence...
1. Our opponent has a hand strong enough to call an early pre-flop raise AND a re-raise. Because it is only the 3rd hand of the tournament a big Ace or a biggish pair is the most likely holding.
2. He flat-calls the c-bet with position. What hand would he do this with if he doesn't have an Ace? A flush draw is unlikely...but maybe he could call with atc's to try and bluff the turn. However, an Ace fits the bill more logically in my mind. The way he acted at the time made me think he had one.
3. He checks the turn. Now this discounts the call-to-bluff theory because he passes up the opportunity I presented him with to take the pot down.
4. A queen comes on the end and he performs the same all-in bluff steal move that I was planning with Kings full (a strong hand!). But he passed up that ideal bluffing opportunity on the turn so why would he make such an outrageous bluff now? And it's so early in the tournament...who wants to go out on a bluff after 3 hands?
I thought he MAY have Queens and this is why I called. But from the flop onwards I had put him on an Ace...and a big one at that. A-K and A-Q both had me beat and it is unlikely he has called an early re-raise with A-J or worse. So could you fold? I Don't rightly know, but probably not, it would be a stunning play if you could. The Sexton/Van Patten WPT commentary on that one would be rather special.
So I was out after playing just one hand of poker at The Bellagio and the pleasure of that hand had just cost me $1k. As I stood up the early raiser told me he had folded a Queen...yeah thank's for that pointless info buddy it's made me feel that much better...and to top it all off my bloody Latte was cold.
I personally wasn't disappointed with how I had approached the hand but the only regret I had...was not ordering a Mocha...the cream topping would have taken 30 seconds longer and I would have landed at the table with my Kings in the muck.
Thanks for all the comments that have contributed to making this a really enjoyable HOTW.